Amprey urges fast track for school-reform plans BALTIMORE CITY

June 25, 1993|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Staff Writer

Rejecting a piecemeal approach to school reform, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey said last night that he favored giving every school in the Baltimore system broad authority over its own operations by the 1994-1995 school year.

"I am forcing this issue with regard to moving our school system forward," said Dr. Amprey, as he briefed the school board on an initiative creating a network of 20 "enterprise schools" by September.

And while he must win approval from the school board for such a transformation, "the board agrees generally on this," Dr. Amprey said.

The enterprise school concept, recommended by a consultant last year, and touted by state lawmakers, would give schools greater control over their own budgets, educational programs, support services and other resources.

Already, the school system has identified 20 schools to participate in such a program, including 14 schools that for the past several years have taken part in a similar experiment in school-based management.

In a report presented last night, a task force recommended that Baltimore start with 20 enterprise schools and then add 25 schools each year.

But Dr. Amprey wants to move faster, urging that the enterprise school concept be phased in at virtually every school within the next two years.

He argued that the school system wastes time and energy by dividing its efforts among a host of different reform measures.

Dr. Amprey cited the "Tesseract" program, under which the operation of nine city schools was turned over to a private company last year and which he would like to expand.

"The problem is, we're running dual systems," he said. "We've got to begin to concentrate."

Although many schools may be reluctant to take on the same measure of local control as the 20 enterprise schools chosen for this fall, "we still want to force them into that mode," Dr. Amprey said.

In other business last night, the superintendent announced that Bernard Stokes, 54, a longtime school police officer and administrator, has been named interim school police chief, effective Thursday. He replaces veteran school police chief Larry Burgan. Dr. Amprey earlier this month reassigned Mr. Burgan, effective Wednesday.

Mr. Burgan, meanwhile, is seeking a Baltimore City Circuit Court order blocking his removal and requiring the school board and Civil Service Commission to investigate his reassignment.

In replacing Mr. Burgan, the superintendent criticized the department for relying heavily on arrest and confrontation and said his desire was for "a new direction" in school security.

Mr. Stokes has been with the school system since 1971, serving as a police officer as well as in various administrative jobs. His most recent post was as security supervisor for Northwest schools.

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